Tuesday, June 12, 2012

review: The Hunger Games (books)

So I've already talked about Hunger Games the movie  - this is the book the movie was based on. And although this book (and movie) were classified as a young adult (or PG-13) there are many adult themes and it is intensely violent. So if you've got young ones and aren't sure if this is the book for them, here's my rule: if you can't enter the games (age 12) you can't read about them either. Although a lot of parent obviously ignored this warning for the movie (stupid crying children). I will also trying to be more plot/character heavy on this review, rather than film/acting/musically focused.

This is my second read through of this trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It consists of: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. All three are written in first person point of view which is, upon the second reading, actually quite refreshing. Instead of feeling like someone is a telling you a story, Collins uses the first person which makes you feel more like you're there despite the out-of-this-world situation.

The Hunger Games takes place in the distant but not unbelievable post-apocalyptic future in what was once the United States. Now called Panem, and ruled by the high-tech and fashion obsessed and bored populace of the Capitol, is comprised as twelve districts (well, once thirteen, but the thirteenth rebelled and was quickly put down), each one responsible for different goods/services (coal, agriculture, tech, etc). Each year to remember the day of the uprising, the Capitol requires two tributes from each district, one male and one female. These tributes chosen in "The Reaping", are forced to compete in a battle to the death in "The Hunger Games".

Katniss Everdeen is a 16 year-old girl from district twelve. She lives with her mother and younger sister - her father died in the coal mining accident when she was eleven. She is well....  stubborn, quiet, rebellious but all without drawing attention to herself (or so she believes). She spends her time taking care of her sister, mother (who spiraled into a deep depression after her husband's death) and hunting with her best friend Gale (male - not female). Anyways, due to some horrible luck, her little sister Prim gets chosen as tribute and instead of letting her go to her death, Katniss volunteers as tribute. The other tribute is Peeta Mellark, the baker's son. They are whisked away to the Capitol where they are beautified and judged as they prepare for the 74th annual Hunger Games.

In the Capitol the tributes are subjected to the whims of the populace and their odd fashions. The games and its contestants are constantly scrutinized and judge both by the populace, game masters, and politicians. These perverted games are Collins' way of reflecting her disgust of reality television and intense scrutiny of the media.Collins' said she was inspired by the Japanese movie Battle Royale, footage from the Iraq invasion and a reality tv show she saw while flipping channels. The use of media through the movie is twisted - from needing sponsors for the games, televised interviews of the champions and the publicly mandated viewing of the intense violence of the games.

One of the things I really liked about this movie was Katniss' insistence on finding herself and doing what feels or is right for her. And although she allows herself to be swayed on a few issues - she does not adamantly deny or refuse them. More focus on establishing self. Doing what's best for herself, figuring out what she wants and who she wants. She doesn't want to be pushed or pulled by people (slight problem seeing as how the Capitol runs their lives). Whether this be how she trains, who she falls for, or how she wins - Katniss wants to do it on her own terms.

In comparison to movie there's a lot more development of Katniss' feelings for Peeta. the movie makes it kinda seem like she's just playing a long but in the book there are real moments where she feels connected to him and where she even starts having feelings about him right back. There's more time spent with Prim and her mother and more history there (which is nice sense the absence of this background was one of my pet peeves in the movie).

In the movie there also only one or two moments of joy or laughter. The book offers many more examples, adding levity and charm to what could have been such a dour book. Many of these moments are with Peeta (granted she is with him for the majority of the book....) where they tease and joke with each other even in the face of the looming games. These moments made Katniss feel more real and highlighted her youth which could be lost at moments in the movie.

I did really like this book - in fact it's my favorite out of the trilogy. I give The Hunger Games (the book) 4 out of 5 stars! How did you think it compared to the movie?

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